Is AMMA not answerable to a society that has revered them and given them the status they occupy?

Even as Left leaders proclaim they are with the survivor why are top guns silent
Flix Mollywood Friday, June 29, 2018 - 14:52

There is a certain rush to his hurried stride. The distance to the car seems too long for Mukesh as he laughs off, mumbles a few words to reporters walking, running with him. No, no, he keeps muttering, "should not say, won't say". Question is on Dileep, an actor like him.

‘You are an MLA’, one reporter prods him. "Then ask me about the constituency", he says, about the vegetable farming project he recently inaugurated. "But you are the vice-president of AMMA, that has reinstated Dileep, the man accused of masterminding the rape of a woman actor," someone else reminds him. That's when he tries to laugh off and run away. If he was accosted like this before he became an MLA, he may have, like in a famous midnight call from a fan, got angry and shouted.  

Now, he had to be careful. But, why?  

Most other representatives of the ruling Left in Kerala have responded.  

Cinema has played a big role in reaffirming the patriarchal mentality of the Malayali man, politburo member MA Baby wrote on Facebook.    

It is not an internal affair of AMMA, he rightly adds, when the members are held in such high regard and their every action influences the Malayali society. Democratic Kerala would stand with the decision of those women who decided to leave AMMA.  

Reiterating it was Finance Minister Thomas Isaac's statement. The questions asked by the Women in Cinema Collective are very relevant, he said. "It is a time when there are big fights against discrimination of women and for equal justice. That is when the people at the helm of an industry that has the largest influence on its society, take an anti-woman stance."  

Dileep is accused of crimes that can bring huge punishments. The court will have to give a verdict. When that is so, how could the film body decide he is innocent and take him back, Isaac asks. 

Former Chief Minister and the senior most leader of CPI (M), VS Achuthanandan, called the four women who resigned, bold. “They have resigned after openly admitting that the association is quite anti-woman,” he said. 

And this includes the woman who was hurt. Over and over again. First by the same accused actor, who, she says, snatched her opportunities to act, and then allegedly masterminded this crime. AMMA who never took her complaints and concerns seriously, has now openly stood with the man who has allegedly made life hell for her. 

AMMA, the film body that is supposed to take care of its actor members, has left one standing in the lurch. And with her, the many other women, who go out to work day and night, trusting those with them. A trust that has been broken once again with this decision coming on the day one of the supermen of the industry took charge as president. Mohanlal had to pay for it too. 

His effigy has been burnt in Kochi. The All India Youth federation (AIYF), affiliated to the Communist Party of India (CPI) marched in protest before burning the figure of a man worshipped by thousands. The Youth Congress too marched to Mohanlal’s house on Friday.

It is perhaps the first time that these groups have turned against a man who they have called nothing other than Lalettan. The name they and others have fondly given him and insist everyone from a toddler use. Mammootty, the other man on top, has a similar breed of fan following, ready to get angry at everyone they imagine has moved a finger against their 'Mammukka'. 

Mukesh's story is different. He has for long played the funny young man on screen, years after youth had left him. He didn’t however continue on the same path as his superstar friends. He was sidelined to playing the supporting character, an elder brother and then a father. Perhaps that's when he thought of lounging into politics, competing with co-actors to win the Kollam constituency. 

It was only months later that the assault happened. Mukesh had then famously got angry at reporters who asked questions about Dileep. That was before Dileep's ouster from AMMA. That little outburst did not help Mukesh's image as a people's representative. 

Neither does this silence that he insists on. Health minister KK Shailaja wrote: "Those who can’t understand the mind of the young woman who was attacked and couldn't stand with her have no right to be cultural activists." Mukesh has perhaps not heard that yet.  

He must have also missed the words of TN Seema, former Left MP, that she is not only "with her" (a campaign that was started by those in support of the woman survivor) but passes on a word of caution against the dangerous message given by those not with her. "This (Avalkoppam or With Her) is an acid test. A test to prove how responsible you are to your society, fellow human beings, and human rights. How many from AMMA including the MLAs and superstars are ready to take up this challenge?" she wrote on Facebook. 

Politburo member Brinda Karat made it very clear: “We do not expect anybody with commitment to the Left ideology to support such acts”. 

And today, Minister Kadakampally Surendran has stated explicitly: "No one needs to doubt that this government is with the woman who was attacked, whichever MLAs and MPS are part of the Malayalam film body." 

But then, even as nearly everyone from the ruling Left criticised AMMA's decision to take Dileep back, two of its top guns have not. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, known to speak his mind, has for some reason not uttered a word. At the time there were fingers pointing at Dileep even before his arrest, the CM had said there was no conspiracy angle. And later clarified in haste that the government viewed atrocities against women seriously. 

The state secretary of the CPI (M) Kodiyeri Balakrishnan too has not uttered a word on AMMA or questioned the role played by two left MLAs, Ganesh and Mukesh, in pushing this decision.

Even the Mahila Congress has organised a protest march in Alappuzha, when most of the Opposition Congress leaders have kept mum. And BJPM P V Muralidharan too took a stance against AMMA, saying he was also "With her" and pleading Mohanlal to take a democratic stand, as president. He was of course lambasted by right wing supporters because he had not taken a similar stand when a BJP leader Lasitha Palakkal was verbally abused earlier by an actor named Sabu.  

Activists and educationists have lashed out. The Network of Women in Media has too.  

Then there are the people. They have stopped calling the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists by its acronym. Amma was a blessed word, this body of women antagonisers did not deserve to be called so. 

It is five days since AMMA took its controversial decision and upset the people who had always looked up to those who played the guardians of the society on the big screen. It is disheartening that they have not found time to respond. Or, are they not answerable to a society that has revered them and given them the status they occupy? 

 

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